The $4 a gallon threshold here should be noted as an historic event, however. I believe it is the moment that the rest of the American population finally will come out of their state of denial and realize that holy shit, we'd better find an alternative to gasoline, and pronto.
It was not so long ago that "experts" said things like this:
But gasoline is unlikely to top $3 per gallon absent an unexpected supply hit, such as a hurricane disrupting operations at key Gulf Coast refineries. [Houston Chronicle, September 13, 2007]I laugh when I hear people (especially in the news) say, "... and it may not go down again."
The $4 a gallon threshold is a harbinger of ever-spiraling gasoline prices here. It is simply one more indicator that we as a nation can no longer consider ourselves better than everyone else. Our arrogance has lasted too long and turned into hubris, and it's time to acknowledge that as long as we are reliant on foreign oil for our energy, we are not truly independent. (In fact, we can never truly be independent, ever again, and the quicker we realize that our neighborhood now knows no boundaries, the better shot we have of staying in a world leadership role.)
$4 a gallon was inconceivable to all those people who proudly bought Hummers just three years ago. I laugh at the guy who wrote a local op-ed saying he was proud to drive his Hummer and emit carbons into the air as it demonstrated his invincible control over nature. Take >that<, smackhead. But I feel awful for the people truly hit hard by $4 a gallon gas. I don't care about the families with their big SUVs, oh boo hoo it costs sooo much to get Billy to ballet and Susie to rugby now. No, I feel for the people who are unable to make a living any more. The pool service people. The yard service people, including the legions of immigrants in this state who may or may not be documented. Taxi drivers, who often have to take fuel costs out of their receipts. I feel bad for the people who could not afford houses close in to our cities and so moved out to the exurbs in the late 90s and early 2000s. They already struggled, and now their mortgage rates have skyrocketed at the same time their commute has doubled in price. They were only trying to have a better home and school for their kids, and now they're unable to maintain what they could afford just three years ago. I know everyone will tell me to "get over it," but imagine where we'd be if Gore had been elected in 2000. Sure, 9/11 would have happened anyway. Gore would have smacked down the Taliban and bent all the US military might into finding bin Laden. We would not have spent a trillion dollars in Iraq. We would have had oodles of national guardsmen on hand to help rescue and rebuild the Gulf Coast. We would have poured a huge amount of the nation's vast intellectual and creative resources into alternative fuel and green technologies, because that was Gore's biggest passion. Oh, wait. Gore was elected in 2000. He just wasn't allowed to become President.
$4 a gallon represents record profits for oil companies like Shell and Chevron. $4 a gallon represents an imminent threat to our Alaskan wilderness and California coastlines. $4 a gallon points to higher prices on staple foods. $4 a gallon points to more families unable to make ends meet.
It may seem cheap to much of the world, but look at it in the context of having nearly doubled in a two year period. When our society is based on the automobile, that's a huge, and mostly hidden, part of many families' budgets.